Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five ingredients! Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes and Anchovie Sauce

I would have taken pictures of this dish but it looks much better in person. You'll have to try the recipe and post your pics. :)

This is one of Steve's favourite dishes, is so easy to make and has only 5 ingredients!

You'll need:
  • Tilapia fillets
  • Anchovies in the oil
  • 1 full packet of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

In a pan over very low heat, pour entire content of anchovies and oil. Let anchovies melt. This should take about 12 minutes or so. If you cook the anchovies at a high heat, it will splatter everywhere. Big mess! Stay low!

Throw in garlic, all cherry tomatoes and olive oil. You can toss these ingredients in while the anchovies are cooking.

Let entire sauce cook for a total of 20 minutes or so.

Put tilapia fillets in sauce and cook for about 10 minutes or until fully cooked through.

Serve cherry tomatoes on top of tilapia fillets. Drizzle with leftover sauce.

Steve loves having this dish with fresh bread to sop up the sauce.

So technically, this dish has six ingredients. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

2 Ways to celebrate in Toronto:

1. Free coffee at Starbucks if you bring in a travel mug.

2. Beginning at 1pm they are giving away FREE Brita pitchers at Yonge-Dundas Square. Quantities are limited to the first 3600 people.

They were also handing out pine tree seedlings to pedestrians from Honda.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Greek Easter!

(From top right, dolmades, pork tenderloin, potatoes, spanokopita, lamb and orzo salad)

This Greek Easter, Steve and I worked really hard. We fasted every Wednesday and Friday, no meat or dairy. This proved to be quite the culinary challenge because if you make leftovers with meat on Tuesday, you can't eat it the next day and same deal with Thursday. So you really have to make more proportionate meals on those days as well.

One of the hardest things I found was fasting from dairy. Those ingredients seem to be in everything I eat! Yoghurt, Cheez-it, etc. Towards the end of Lent, I was craving meat like crazy. I wanted a Big Mac so bad. :)

So we had a big feast to celebrate Easter and boy, did I go to town. We went to my sister and brother in laws house. I could smell the lamb as we approached their street. My father and brother in law had prepared the lamb the day before with garlic and cheese. In addition, my mother in law made her wonderful spankopitas (spinach pies) and potatoes. She also made dolmades, which is meat wrapped in grape leaves covered with a creamy egg sauce. We also had salad and made my orzo salad. Dan, my brother in law, grilled sausages and the lamb. Connie, my sister in law made this mouthwatering pork with a meaty gravy. I can't remember even talking during dinner. For dessert, Connie made a chocolate cake with a mocha frosting. This cake was so moist. My mother in law also brought Galaktoboureko, which is a Greek pastry with layers of phyllo and custard. She also made Koulouria, which are Greek butter cookies.


Scraping the bottom of the pantry

I've been on a bit of a flogging hiatus because I'm in the midst of packing and moving. Since I'm trying to to use up the remaining stuff in the freezer and pantry and not buy any new groceries, my dinners haven't been overly exciting. I just packed up most of my spices, pots and baking supplies, so my kitchen feels really barren right now. Very sad. :(
And of course, with the impending arrival of the baby, I'm not sure how much cooking I'll be up to in the next little while. I'm going to have to rely on Mandy to keep the flog alive for the next month or so. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Creamy Scrambled Eggs on English Muffins

Scrambled eggs are probably one of my favourite ways to cook eggs. The perfect scrambled eggs are creamy with large soft curdles and just set. The key to cooking them just right is to not over scramble them and to not overcook them. You can put whatever herbs you like in the egg mixture but I prefer when they're not over seasoned. In this recipe, I used fresh dill. It would have been lovely if I had some smoked salmon to top this with, but smoked salmon is off the list of pregnancy-appropriate foods. I thought this tasted great on its own.

4 large eggs
1 tsp butter
4 tbsp milk
handful fresh dill chopped
cream cheese
2 halved english muffins, toasted

Melt butter in a skillet on medium/low heat (should not be hot enough to allow the butter brown).
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until combined. Season with dill, salt and pepper.
Pour egg mixture into skillet, and allow to set for about a minute. Slowly drag your spatula across the bottom of the pan to form soft curdles. Once the eggs are set and done to your liking, divide into four portions and remove from heat.
Spread cream cheese on English muffin halves and top with scrambled eggs.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Crab & Broccoli Alfredo

I made this dish for one of my first dinner parties back in first year university when I just got into cooking. It was a success then, and a decadent treat today.

One can of crab meat (or use fresh if you have it)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tbsp butter
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of cream (10%)
2 tsp of cream cheese (I didn't use for this version)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup broccoli florets, cooked tender crisp
1/2 lb Linguini pasta, cooked al dente

Saute garlic until fragrant in a little olive oil and salt. On low heat, melt butter with flour. (will look like a sandy mixture.. but it's okay.. don't let the butter brown) Slowly stir in the cream. Add Parmesan and cream cheese and salt and pepper and nutmeg. Keep heat low and keep stirring. Add crab meat last. Remove from heat and serve immediately or sauce will become too thick! Serve sauce over linguini and broccoli.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adas Polo

I had Adas Polo for the first time at a Persian restaurant called Pomegranates on College St. It was so delicious. I loved the sweet tasting rice and lentil pilaf and the saffron infused fork tender braised lamb. It was the first time I'd tasted Persian food, and from then on, I was hooked. I hounded my Persian co-worker, Shiva for some recipes the next day!

Today, I had beef shanks in the fridge so I made Adas polo with beef instead instead of lamb.
Here's my version of the recipe. It served two with some extra rice and lentil pilaf leftover for tomorrow.

2 beef (or lamb) shanks
2 onions diced
2 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp saffron
2 cups basmati rice (I used jasmine rice)
1/2 cup lentils
1/3 cup raisins
few dashes cinnamon
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup barberries

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grind saffron and place in a small bowl and add 2-3 tbsp hot water.
Saute onions and garlic in a skillet until golden. Add half of the saffron water to the onions.
Push the onions to the edge of the pan and sear the beef shanks on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
Transfer beef and onion mixture to a baking pan and pour broth until it reaches 1/3 way up the sides of the beef shank. Braise in the oven for about 2 hours (or more) until fork tender. Check on the beef every half hour and top up with more broth or water so beef is always immersed in liquid 1/3 up the sides.

When beef has only 1/2 hour more to braise, cook rice in the rice cooker.
Was and simmer lentils in a about 1 cup of water on the stove in a small pot until tender but not mushy (about 15-20 minutes). Drain and set aside.
When rice has finished cooking pour the rest of the saffron water over the top of the rice and mix so that some rice grains are white and some are yellow. Stir in raisins, lentils, cinnamon and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Remove beef shanks from the oven and serve on top of the rice scooping some of the caramelized onions and sauce over top if desired. Sprinkle with barberries to finish off.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Canvas shopping bags

We must have a ton of plastic bags. I kept them all in one big bag and it is always stocked. We try to use them when we can but we are never short on supply.

I always feel bad about these plastic bags. I know they are bad for the environment.. but what for?

(Here is some research that I got from The Real Cost of "Free", http://www.reusablebags.com/)

  • "Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food. Turtles think the bags are jellyfish, their primary food source. Once swallowed, plastic bags choke animals or block their intestines, leading to an agonizing death.

  • On land, many cows, goats and other animals suffer a similar fate to marine life when they accidentally ingest plastic bags while foraging for food.

  • In a landfill, plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade. As litter, they breakdown into tiny bits, contaminating our soil and water.

  • When plastic bags breakdown, small plastic particles can pose threats to marine life and contaminate the food web. A 2001 paper by Japanese researchers reported that plastic debris acts like a sponge for toxic chemicals, soaking up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater. These turn into toxic gut bombs for marine animals which frequently mistake these bits for food.

  • Collection, hauling and disposal of plastic bag waste create an additional environmental impact. An estimated 8 billion pounds of plastic bags, wraps and sacks enter the waste stream every year in the US alone, putting an unnecessary burden on our diminishing landfill space and causing air pollution if incinerated."

"The Real Cost of "Free"".<http://www.reusablebags.com/facts.php?id=2> April 2009.

Awwww. :(

These plastic bags can truly be wasteful and be highly toxic. So ignorant am I to frivolously use these bags without any consideration. Its frightening to think that these toxins contaminate our soil and water, the very essence of our life and resources. What truly is in our water and vegetables? I wonder if they tasted different centuries ago? I'll have to flog about this later.

So, we bought a bunch of canvas grocery bags. I really hope we saved some animals.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chicken Giovetsi / Kota Lemonati

I was reading Closet Cooking and loved the look of the recipe for Chicken Giovetsi. It reminded me of this amazing dish I had at a Greek restaurant in Chicago called Kota Lemonati. Kota Lemonati was a delicious melange of chicken, artichokes, mushrooms and tomatoes served over rice. I happened to have steamed fresh artichokes that I prepared a while ago and had stored in the freezer as well as some fresh mushrooms in the fridge. I liked the Giovetsi recipe because it was a one pot oven dish using orzo instead of rice, but I included some other ingredients from my memories of the Kota Lemonati.

Here's my version of these 2 recipes combined. It turn out to be a really yummy dish with comforting flavours.

4 chicken thighs (skin removed)
1 cup orzo pasta
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large onion diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 can whole artichoke hearts, drained (or freshly steamed if you have!)
6-7 button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
Handfuls of chopped baby spinach

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Saute onions and garlic in a skillet until fragrant. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until softened. Add uncooked orzo and stir to allow to toast for a bit and absorb the flavours in the skillet. Add artichokes, tomatoes and oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer mixture to a baking pan and top with uncooked chicken thighs.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until liquid is absorbed, orzo is nice and puffed up and chicken is cooked through. Garnish with chopped baby spinach.

Polish Charcuterie

I'm a little behind on my flogging, because I had a busy weekend, so I'll post my catch up from the weekend. I went to this AMAZING Polish grocery store in Mississauga with my mom on Saturday. It was called Starsky's. I felt like I was in eastern Europe. Everything in the aisles were imported...beautiful looking jams, marinated vegetables, fish, packaged cookies. There were huge counters for deli, meats, cheeses, brined fish, bread, pastries, and hot prepared food. I was in heaven. I picked out some cheese, smoked sausages, meat loafs, bread and perogies and made a 'charcuterie' platter for dinner - Polish style! Would have been perfect if I had some pickled onions or baby cornichons to go with...

I love simple meals like this.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

More time for Greek fries!

Sorry I haven't flogged in a while.. Sometimes I find it so hard to get everything done and still relax!

And to think, I don't even have kids yet.

I was trying to think of ways to save time. I am going to spend a little more time prepping for the next day's dinner so it will be quicker.

Please post your tips of getting through the week! I'd love to know what things you do to cut time.

Now, to more important things: Greek fries!

Greek fries remind me of Messini, the absolutely best place to have gyros. This is very high on the list of comfort foods.

So easy too.

Potato wedges or fries (I used the pre-cut frozen ones)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)

Top fries with oregano, feta and lemon juice.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spinach, Ricotta & Prosciutto Cannelloni

This cannelloni was perfect for a weeknight. It was easy to prepare and while it baked in the oven I was able to kick up my feet and relax before my home church came over.

10 ready bake cannelloni tubes
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 package of frozen spinach, defrosted and towel dried
6 slices prosciutto diced
1 egg
1 tsp basil
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, prosciutto, egg, basil salt and pepper in a bowl. Stuff mixture in cannelloni shells. Lay 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Place cannelloni in a single layer in the pan. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and cannelloni are tender.

I had some mixture and sauce left over, so I made a lasagna as well for tomorrow's supper.